We just celebrated Thanksgiving last weekend. It is a season that reminds us to think about what we are thankful and grateful for.
But, what is gratitude and how can it shift how we live our lives?
I looked up the definition of gratitude and found it includes three important elements: being thankful, ready to show appreciation and willing to return kindness. I was a bit surprised by this third element. Certainly, being thankful and showing appreciation were in my thoughts about gratitude but, being willing to return kindness expands this concept so much further.
About a year ago I was strongly encouraged to start a gratitude journal and write down 10 things I was grateful for every day. At first, I felt like it was sort of a punishment, having to write out lines of what I was grateful for. I recalled it was like having to write lines on the board for chewing gum in class when I was a kid.
Soon though, I came to recognize that it was more than just making a list. It became a way to remember at least 10 things in every day that I experienced and thought about and was thankful for. It was a way to show appreciation through my pen and then also remember to show appreciation to those who showed me kindness. And it was a reminder for me to be kind to others so that they could have something to add to their gratitude journal.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some days where finding one thing, let alone 10 things, can be extremely difficult. But consider this: when you have those challenging days and get through them, what have you gained? What have you learned about yourself that you may not have known before? What positive things did you learn about others that you had not noticed before? There can be some amazing insights from challenging days that you may never have noticed before if you were not looking for elements to be grateful for.
Another piece to gratitude is the shift in perspective. You may have heard of the adage that you get more of what you focus on. Well that is very true when it comes to gratitude. If you are searching through your day for things to be thankful for you will learn how to find them. As you find them you will notice that there are more things in your life to be grateful for. The mind is an amazing thing. It wants to please you and find what it is you are looking for.
Practicing regular gratitude in my daily life has made a huge shift in how I see the world and appreciate things around me.
How do you think regular gratitude might shift your life?
Libby Pease is a certified life transformation specialist in Centre Wellington. The “Open Mind” column is sponsored by community partners who are committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. Contact email@example.com. For local mental health resources/information, visit www.mdsgg.ca or call 1-844-HERE247.